Home News-Free Public gets an update on new access road into Barksdale

Public gets an update on new access road into Barksdale

DOTD Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson, second from left, answered community questions regarding the new access road from I-20/220 to Barksdale Air Force Base at a special meeting Monday night in Bossier City. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

The public received an update Monday on the new entry into Barksdale Air Force Base from I-20/220.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) hosted a public meeting at the Bossier Civic Center to update on the new access road from the interstate interchange that will provide direct access to Barksdale and reduce traffic congestion.

DOTD Public Information Officer Erin Buchanan said, “The project as it’s proposed will provide new access into Barksdale Air Force Base, and relieve increasingly congested existing entrances into the base. Additionally, improvements to the existing I-20/I-220 interchange will make for an improved travel experience for the motoring public. We hold these meetings so we can hear what taxpayers have to say about the project, and use that feedback to adjust and improve plans. We want to ultimately deliver a final product that best fits the needs of the community for many years to come.”

Dr. Shawn Wilson, secretary of DOTD, was present at the meeting answering questions and taking comments.

“There will be some disruption to residence in terms of driving piles or building the elevated sections that cross the interstate. You will perhaps see some nightly closures, similar to what you saw on constructing I-49 North,” Wilson said.

However, he added that he is excited that Gov. John Bel Edwards has made this a priority and provided support to make this project a reality.

“This is what you call economic development in its finest form. The governor is very focused on finding those economic drivers in northwest Louisiana,” he said.

DOTD and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are nearing completion of the concept engineering and environmental process for proposed improvements to the I-220/I-20 interchange and addition of a Barksdale access road.

Officials expect a contract will be signed in March and construction is expected to begin next year, sometime around late summer or early fall.

“We are now one step closer to project completion on this interchange that will directly aid the missions at Barksdale and will have major economic impact on local and state economies,” said Bossier City Mayor Lorenz “Lo” Walker.

This project will be advanced to the next stage of implementation as a Design-Build project; a process that combines the abilities of an engineering design firm with those of a skilled highway contractor to develop a final design plan that will be constructed as sections of the project are approved. This process reduces the time to complete the project and open the roadway to the public earlier than the traditional design-bid-build approach .

The purpose of the proposed improvements is to enhance the operational characteristics and capacity of the interchange in conjunction with the development of a direct access roadway to Barksdale. The proposed project improvements address continuity of access to the interchange for BAFB, operational improvements for vehicular access to BAFB, and reduction in congestion at the existing BAFB access points. 

The approximate length of the proposed project is approximately 1.1 miles from north of I-20 to south of the KCS Railroad. The project concept will include constructing new roadways, bridges, signs and lighting, and modifying existing roadways. Aesthetic design features will be given consideration relative to the surrounding area.

If you were unable to attend the community meeting and would like to see a PowerPoint presentation regarding the project, please go to http://wwwsp.dord.la.gov/insideLaDOTD/Divisions/Engineering/Environmental/Pages/default.aspx

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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.